How often do you "honestly" think about your safety while out in the field?
Yes, there are a number of us that are always looking over our shoulders, possess fire arms, etc, but how often do you "honestly" think about your safety while out in the field?
I have lived in Seattle's Greater Eastside for the past 26 years of my life. Most of that time was spent growing up in Redmond (microsoft land) and now I reside in downtown Bellevue. Violent crime is really not a big factor here. Sure, there is crime like with any city in the country, but the eastside is definitely not known for it's homicide rate. Back on January 5th 2001, a well respected & seasoned Windermere agent named Michael Emert was murdered while showing a house in the quiet suburb of Woodinville. The case still remains unsolved to this day. You might ask yourself "how does something so horrific like this happen?" The sad truth is that could have been any one of us. Thank god this was a RARE incident, but because so many years have passed most agents have forgotten that their lives are in danger at any given moment when in the field.
As for the question I asked at the very top of this posting, I will be the first one to say that my personal safety rarely crosses my mind when I am out in the field. Call me careless, absentminded, unheeding, whatever, but I am simply being honest. Maybe it is the stubborness of my gender (you woman out there know what I am talking about) that automatically puts up those blinders, but as a young male who is trained in taekwondo, kick boxing, wrestling & jiu-jitsu, I am more than confident in my ability to defend myself. Do not get me wrong, martial arts are powerless compared to a bullet, but again, I am simply being honest when I say that I am rarely thinking about my safety when I should be at all times.
At any given time or place, we are all in danger. Obviously, life in general poses many threats to our safety, but the focus of this blog is to discuss the safety in the real estate industry. When you are out and about showing houses, previewing houses, meeting new clients in private settings, whatever, how often do you say to yourself "hmmm... I might get robbed, beaten or killed today?" Come on... be honest... you don't right? Well neither did I until recently when my eyes were opend by a very wise individual. Most criminals do not discriminate against gender so it does not matter if you are a man or a woman. Obviously the agent murdered in Woodinville was a man so for all you tough guy agents out their, I've got news for you... YOU ARE NOT INVINCIBLE!!!
There are two types of people in the world. Proactive and reactive. The proactive individual will take preventative measures in an attempt to reduce the risk of an unpleasant experience. The reactive individual will wait until a catastrophic event occurs before taking some kind of action. Fortunately, I have not experienced such an event, but I am now going to take proactive measures in case I ever walk into an uncomfortable situation. YOU SHOULD TOO BY CREATING A PLAN OF ACTION ASAP!!!
If you are asking yourself "what should I do?" there are a number of steps you can take. Obviously we are all different and will have various comfort levels so I recommend going with what feels right. Keeping it simple is best. Our parents may have taught us "not to talk to strangers" but unfortunately our entire business is based off of doing just that :-)
Here are a few suggestions that I personally recommend:
SELF DEFENSE CLASSES: If anything, you should do this if you have not done so already. Not only is it a fantastic work out for you mind and body, but it may just come in handy some day.
ARM YOURSELF: This is America people! We live in one of the most gun happy countries on the planet if not the most. Last I read, there is an estimated 90 million guns owned in the United States alone. It is very easy to obtain a concealed weapons permit and I recommend that you do so(unless you have committed a crime that prevents you from obtaining a permit). If you are not comfortable with carrying a fire arm, there is always tasers, mace, knives, etc that are all easy to carry in a pocket, purse, briefcase, you name it.
THE BUDDY SYSTEM: Okay, okay... I know this sounds a little elementary school, but it may just save your life one day. When showing houses to new/exisitng/suspicious clients, bring a fellow agent or assistant along for the ride. The more the merrier! Honestly, if a suspect has a gun and takes you by surprise, it doesn't matter how many people you have with you. The point is that you are taking a preventative measure which still increases your chances of making it home for dinner that evening.
COMMUNICATION: NEVER, and I do mean NEVER, go anywhere without telling somebody where you are going first. Whether it is your business partner, secretary, spouse, monster in law, whoever, just tell SOMEBODY where you will be at all times. If somebody knows where you are at and where you are supposed to be, they will know to contact the authorities if you turn up missing for several hours. Another suggestion is to have a friend, family member, co-worker, etc CHECK IN WITH YOU via cell phone at a designated time for a quick progress report. Nobody likes to be babysat, but again, it may just save your life one day. I am personally guilty of this and trying my best to correct it :-)
Obviously there are other options to choose from other than what is listed above, but I am sure you get the point by now. By taking action now and preparing yourself for the worst, you may just buy yourself a second chance at life!